Sony has started rolling out a major software update for select 2018 and 2019 Android TVs in the US and Europe that adds Android 9 (Pie), Apple AirPlay and HomeKit as well Dolby Atmos support.
Update 12.12.2019: The update is now also rolling out in Europe, according to Sony.
"We are pleased to announce that Android 9 Pie, will start rolling out gradually to Internet-connected applicable TVs from 11th December 2019," said Sony Europe. "In a first phase, this update will be released directly to eligible LCD models (ZF9, ZG9, XG85/XG87 and XG95 series). Our Bravia OLED Master Series models (AF9 and AG9 series) will receive this update in the second stage, in early 2020."
AirPlay 2 & HomeKit for Sony TVs
Earlier this year, Sony announced that it would bring Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit as well as Dolby Atmos to select mid-range and high-end TV models. These features are now being added as part of a major software update to Android 9 Pie.
- "A major software update is scheduled to begin December 2019 for your Android TV," said Sony. "The software update is being rolled out in stages and may not yet be available for your TV. If you enabled the Automatically check for update feature, a notification will appear on your TV when the update is available."
The update is available for the 2018 A9F and Z9F models as well as the 2019 A9G, Z9G, X950G, and X850G (55, 65, 75, 85"), the company said. Other Sony TVs will not receive the new features. It is worth noting that the 2018 A9F and Z9F models were not included as compatible models in the original announcement but they are now listed as compatible.
With Apple AirPlay 2 you can wirelessly transfer video, music, and other media files from an iPhone or iPad to the TV screen. HomeKit support makes your Sony TV appear in the Home app on iPhone and iPad, You can control basic TV functions from an iPhone and add the TV to scenes and automations with other HomeKit-enabled accessories.
Sony has yet to announce availability of the update in Europe and other regions. It has also yet to announce further details about the rollout of the Apple TV app.
Sony is not alone in offering AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support in its TVs. LG, Samsung, and Vizio have also partnered with Apple to bring its TV-related features to TVs.
Android 9 Pie and Dolby Atmos
The major update brings Android 9 Pie to the Sony models. The user interface remains largely unchanged but there are some tweaks here and there, including a streamlined settings menus, an improved input menu, and a mini-preview picture in the TV guide (2019 only).
Dolby Atmos support enables the TVs to decode Dolby Atmos from sources such as streaming apps, and let the built-in TV speakers playback Atmos. The TVs will also be able to output Atmos to a soundbar or receiver.
In addition, Sony is listing "support for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) 100/120Hz format for USB video playback" but curiously only for the 2018 models. This may be related to the fact that these models actually have a more capable chip than the 2019 models. In addition, Sony says that "pass through mode is added and allows the output of compressed audio to a home theater or soundbar". This applies to all models.
The Android 9 (Pie) update with AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and Dolby Atmos is rolling out now in the US, Canada, and Latin America via the automatic update function in TVs.
Sony - December 2019 update
XBR Z9G series
XBR A9G series
XBR X950G series
XBR X850G series (55/65/75/85 inches)
XBR Z9F series
XBR A9F series
New features and changes:
Adds Support for Apple AirPlay and Apple Homekit.
- With Apple AirPlay, you can stream movies, music, games, and photos to your TV right from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.
Integrated Dolby Atmos support through the TV's built-in speakers.
- In addition, Sound mode compatible models will switch to Dolby Audio automatically so that you can enjoy Dolby Atmos content.
Pass through mode is added and allows the output of compressed audio to a home theater or soundbar.
Only 2018 models:
The Video, Album, and Music apps are combined with the Media Player app.
- Videos, photos, and music can now be viewed as a list in the Media Player app.
Adds support for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) 100/120Hz format for USB video playback.
Only 2019 models:
Small screen for TV viewing on program guide
- While in the program guide, a small screen appears in the upper right corner to display the program you are watching
Illumination LED behavior when "Ok Google" is detected (except for XBR X850G/X855G/X857G models).
- The illumination LED blinks yellow if you say "Ok Google" when your TV is turned on or in standby mode.